New Brighton 43-24 Vale of Lune

Vale of Lune captain Sam Wallbank.
Vale of Lune captain Sam Wallbank.

Vale of Lune’s miserable season continued at Hartsfield when they lost their ninth successive North One West fixture.

While they have a buffer of 15 invaluable bonus points the gap is starting to narrow alarmingly between those clubs in positions nine, the Vale, and 12, New Brighton.

On a still grey afternoon the Vale began at a high tempo but it was the home side who went into the lead in the fifth minute when a sweeping attack cut through the Vale’s defence and before they could close down a threatening situation full back Jon Backus was skimming around for a try converted by winger Joe Silcock.

However, in the 17th minute the Vale’s efforts were rewarded with a try. Andy Powers made the initial break in a move that ended with Sam Wallbank pinning his ears back and racing over.

Three minutes later the Vale went into the lead with a flamboyant move that began deep in their own half when James Birchall broke away.

Fergus Owens almost made it to the line, Andy Garnett carried on the move, Ian Bird added width in attack rounded off by Rob Lamberton, his try being converted by Oli Carter.

All the good work was undone from the restart, the Vale fumbled around, the threat was not cleared and a penalty conceded which Silcock kicked, a heavy toll for a period indecision.

In the 32nd minute the inevitable happened as the pressure built on a beleaguered Vale. Wing forward and man of the match in many people’s eyes, Joe Sale broke rather too easily through tackles for a try converted by Silcock to complete the first-half scoring.

There were ominous signs that Brighton’s pack was beginning to ask questions, while the Vale were searching for a level of fluency that would seriously test the home side.

Matters went downhill for the Vale at the start of the second half when Sale broke away in a move completed centre Adam Pitt, his try being converted by Silcock in the 44th minute.

Lady luck smiled on the Vale in the 49th minute when they were in the process of battering Brighton’s goal line referee Toole suddenly raced between the uprights to award a penalty try against a perplexed Brighton side, Carter popped over the conversion.

Only a try adrift the Vale had plenty to fight for, Bird hurtled down field in a grimacing charge but Brighton edged further towards safety when Ben Harris stepped rather too easily through the Vale’s defence for a unconverted solo try in the 55th minute.

With 16 minutes remaining, the Vale gave their supporters something to cheer about when Carter finished off a crossfield move that had begun with a well controlled line out, the stand off added the conversion.

Three minutes later Brighton’s power at scrum time was headlined when they heaved the Vale over their line at a rate of knots, Ben March being awarded the try in a trundle that was straight out of the forward’s coaching manual.

For the remainder of the game Brighton’s juggernaut pack held the whip hand, the Vale found it difficult to cross the half way line and the cries of “Come on Brighton” rang around the ground.

The pleas were answered in the 80th minute when centre Vinny Dutton slipped through for a try converted by Silcock; cue huge smiles all round at the final whistle from players and supporters.

The Vale are without a game on Saturday with title-chasing Kendal next up at The Lane on February 21.

Vale: R Lamberton, J Birchall, I Bird, F Owens, A Macluskie; O Carter, B Swarbrick; M Field, A Powers, R Pillow; B Charnley, P McLaren-Dorrington; J Robinson, A Garnett, S Wallbank (capt). Replacements used: S Foy, J Aryton.